Monday, 14 December 2009

Absence makes the heart grow fondue

I've just been looking at the schedule for this month and have come to realise that I will miss four home games on the trot, starting from Sunderland and taking in Man United, Tottenham and most probably Swindon Town. However I feel all these can be traded in for the fact that this week I will be attending the away Europa League match in Basel. That should get me some kudos points.
Not that Roy cares. The distractions of the UEFA cup has already cost him one English job (Blackburn December - 1998) and he's buggered if that will happen again, despite the hopes and wishes of the fans. Roy's just too pragmatic at times. He's far too experienced to let idle hope permeate where it doesn't belong. That's why he was so angry at the coverage of him suggesting Zamora for England. That's why he says things like:
To be frank we didn’t enter this competition to win it.
Which is disappointing. When the manager doesn't want his team to win a competition, what should the fans do? Had Hodgson said he was going for it in a win or bust tie in Switzerland then I'm sure that the Fulham Flyer seats to the game would have been snapped up. But as it stands there are still plenty on offer. I think the fans that are going out there probably sense the end is near, so will have a bit of a carnival atmosphere no matter what happens, which is a good way to view it.
Truth is, it will be a hard match. Only league leaders Young Boys have beaten Basle at home in the league and the Swiss side were fairly hard done by to lose at the Cottage. However Fulham's odds have been shortening in the last couple of weeks and are now far closer than I'd expect them to be. Had they won at Burnley I would have thought that would give Fulham enough confidence to squeeze a result in Basle.
However, Hodgson has said that with Man United on the horizon, it will be very much a second string in Switzerland. Odd though that the second string will feature three of last season's main midfield: Etuhu, Gera and Murphy. Kelly will no doubt start as probably with Paintsil and Smalling. Riise will play too. Is Davies fit? Physioroom suggests he's not until Boxing Day.
Hodgson has said that Johnson will play a part, but that usually means off the bench. Will he risk Zamora? He's not exactly got many options up front, so he probably will. The regular centre halves may share a half again or Baird could play the game there if he is not being rested for the United game (who would have predicted that at the start of the season?). It's going to be a very similar set up to the CSKA Sofia home match, which was astounding for 15 minutes. It could feel like a long game if that's the case.
Basle only need a draw, but that might be their downfall. If they sit back then they invite teams onto them. Fulham's 'second string' have also been surprisingly effective this season and a good thing too considering the injuries experienced. Still - I'm looking forward to my first European away match and now have a shiny '130 years' Fulham shirt to wear because my mum's bought me one for this match for Christmas. I've not been sure whether I should wear a Fulham shirt before, but I reckon this trip should be a justifiable right of passage to do so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mate - take a few happy snaps for the Basel game, keen to see the pics. Happy we seem to be a soid top 10 team again this year. And your right who thought Baird would be first choice and who thought zamora would be banging them in! That's why we love fulham!

Adam in Singapore

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